What Is R-22, and Does My Air Conditioner Still Use It?

Air conditioners and heat pumps contain refrigerant, which is used to transfer heat through the system. Most homeowners have heard of Freon, and many are somewhat familiar with Puron – but when the word R-22 comes up, lots are left wondering, “what is R-22?”

In our most recent blog, the technicians at Hans Heating and Air explain what R-22 is, what’s happening to it, and how the changes in the type of refrigerant being used today may impact you.

What Is R-22?

If you know what Freon is, you know what R-22 is – Freon and R-22 are two names for the same thing. R-22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) that has been used as an HVAC refrigerant for more than four decades. However, studies have shown that HCFC emissions cause damage to the Earth’s ozone layer and have contributed to the existing hole in the ozone layer. An R-22 refrigerant leak can also be extremely harmful to your health.

The Phaseout of R-22

Due to these findings, the U.S. government passed the Clean Air Act, which requires R-22 and other HCFCs to be phased out of production and import. As of 2010, manufacturers were prevented from using R-22 in new HVAC systems. As of 2020, no new R-22 is allowed to be produced or imported into the country. Currently, the only R-22 available is recovered, reclaimed, or recycled.

Does My Air Conditioner Use R-22?

If your air conditioner was manufactured before 2010, it probably uses R-22 refrigerant. Any air conditioner built in 2010 or later contains a more environmentally friendly refrigerant option that will not damage the ozone layer. The most common is Puron, also called R-410A, which is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) that does not contain damaging chlorine.

What Does the Phase Out Mean for Me?

Use of R-22 is not prohibited, and it is still legal to service HVAC systems that contain R-22. As no new R-22 is able to be produced, though, supplies are extremely limited and will continue to grow even more scarce. This likely means that costs to add refrigerant to R-22 systems will become more and more expensive, eventually arriving at the point where there is either no R-22 left for servicing these systems or replacing them makes better financial sense for homeowners.

The gradual phaseout of R-22 refrigerant was meant to give consumers time to upgrade to HVAC systems that use environmentally friendly refrigerant. If you have an R-22 AC system currently, it is 12 years old (as of 2021) at the youngest, which means air conditioner replacement with a new system that uses Puron can greatly improve cooling energy efficiency in your home. 

It may be possible to retrofit an R-22 central air conditioning system with a new refrigerant system and components that use Puron. However, given the age of any existing R-22 HVAC equipment as well as the cost of such a retrofit project, financially it makes far more sense to replace the entire unit at this point.

Environmentally Friendly Air Conditioning Units from Hans

If you have an older air conditioning or heat pump system that uses R-22, it may be time to say goodbye and make the switch to a new high-efficiency air conditioner with safe Puron refrigerant. The team at Hans Heating and Air will help you find the perfect new air conditioning system and provide expert system replacement and installation. Contact us today to learn more!

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